The 2021 Seattle Kraken Expansion Draft is coming soon. Even though the playoffs are still going on, most teams will be starting to focus on the offseason as we get further into June. The Seattle Kraken will start their inaugural year in 2021-22, and with that comes the expansion draft. There are plenty of opportunities for this Seattle team and the draft, which will take place on July 21st, is sure to be thrilling. While it will be hard to replicate the success of the Vegas Golden Knights (who are exempt from this draft) first season, fans should be excited regardless. Each day, Last Word on Hockey will go through a team and preview all the possible protection, exposure, and trade scenarios. Today, we take a look at the Minnesota Wild preview for the Seattle Kraken expansion draft.
Seattle Expansion Draft Option for the Minnesota Wild
Even after an unfortunate exit out of the playoffs, we can safely say the Minnesota Wild exceeded expectations. Now some may say the Wild’s reason for success was their young rookie Kirill Kaprizov, and part of that is very true. But Dean Evason and Bill Guerin deserve some serious credit in how the Wild played this year.
The Wild’s head coach Dean Evason was a Jack Adams finalist, and rightfully so. Evason took a guy who was not only struggling but had a bad wrap for his last couple of seasons and threw him on the top line. A top-line where Wild winger Kirill Kaprizov seemed out of place. Hometown guy Nick Bjugstad didn’t work at first-line centre nor did Nick Bonino or Ryan Hartman. Victor Rask provided a huge spark for the Wild and was a big piece on their top line.
Not only is that a success story on the Wild team, but the way Wild general manager Bill Guerin (finished seventh in GM of the year voting) completely changed the culture of the team and making them a legitimate future contender.
Protection List: Forwards
With the current Seattle expansion coming up, Bill Guerin will certainly be put to the test. Whether or not Guerin and the Wild go with a 7-3-1 protection list or a 4-4-1 protection list is unknown. Either way, the Wild are going to lose a good player and someone they would like to keep. But due to the numerous no-move clauses, the Wild will be forced to protect some veterans they wish they could leave unprotected.
I would think the Wild would go with the 7-3-1 so they can protect guys like Nico Sturm, Jordan Greenway, and Marcus Foligno. Nico Sturm has the potential to be a very valuable and solid third-line centre in the NHL. It is just a matter of time when he breaks out. Greenway and Foligno were two very solid defensive players and key pieces to the Wild’s top line of Greenway-Ek-Foligno. A 7-3-1 protection list allows Guerin and Evason to keep that GEEF line together.
Kirill Kaprizov is exempt from the Seattle Kraken expansion draft, so the Wild don’t need to worry about that. They just need to focus on keeping him in Minnesota rather than Russia. Protecting Kevin Fiala and Joel Eriksson Ek are no-brainers and there shouldn’t be much hesitation on that part.
Protection List: Defence and Goalie
Bill Guerin and the Wild are once again nailed by the no-move clauses as they are forced to protect 36-year-old Ryan Suter instead of Matt Dumba or even Carson Soucy. If Spurgeon and Brodin didn’t have NMC’s they’d still be no brainers to protect. They are the heart and soul of this team and the backend. They keep pucks out of the net by shutting down plays at a high level as well as generating some high-quality offence.
Protecting Kaapo Kahkonen over Cam Talbot may be a surprise to some, but look at it this way, Talbot is 33 and has two years left on his deal. Kahkonen is 24 and had a pretty good rookie season. He is undoubtedly the goaltender of the future for the Wild. There are some free agent options the Wild can fill in if Talbot is taken by Seattle or not. There are other options for Ron Francis and the Kraken to take as well and more intriguing options in the younger goalies available. That being said, if the Wild left Kahkonen unprotected he would be taken in a heartbeat.
Ryan Hartman, Cam Talbot, Matt Dumba, Carson Soucy, Ian Cole, Victor Rask, Luke Johnson, Nick Bonino, Marcus Johansson, Kyle Rau, Nick Bjugstad, Will Bitten, Dmitry Sokolov, Mason Shaw, Joseph Cramarossa, Gabriel Dumont, Dakota Mermis, Brad Hunt, Brennan Menell, Louis Belpedio, Matt Bartkowski, Ian McCoshen, Andrew Hammond
Ron Francis has a lot to choose from, from two solid top-six defenders in Ian Cole and his d-partner Carson Soucy. Or Francis and the Kraken could take a top-four defender in Matt Dumba. It would be hard to lose a goaltender like Cam Talbot. But as we said before there are plenty of options for the Kraken to take. The Kraken likely to take things slow the first two years. Talbot’s deal expires in two years, so I don’t think the Wild should be worried about losing their 1A goaltender.
The whole Ryan Hartman and Victor Rask situation is up for grabs. Hartman had a great year and would hurt the Wild if he was selected. But that being said, Hartman would fit perfectly on the Kraken. A solid NHL’er who can help guide young prospects through their career.
Could the Kraken Take Victor Rask?
Victor Rask, on the other hand, has one year left at a pricey $4 million AAV. When Ron Francis was in Carolina he drafted Victor Rask 42nd overall of the 2011 draft. Francis also signed Rask to a six-year $24 million deal after he put up 21 goals and 27 assists for 48 points. The point is Ron Francis had faith in Rask when he drafted him and signed him long-term. With Victor Rask’s bounce-back year in 2021, the Kraken might give Rask a look. Rask had 10 goals and 13 assists on the year. That was the first time since 2017 he had 10 or more goals and 10 or more assists.
In a full 82-game season, Rask was on pace for a 15-goal season with 35 points. That would have been the first time since 2016 for him to have more than 15 or more goals and 32 or more points. Now can Rask get 15 or more goals on the Kraken? That’s for Ron Francis to decide. That being said, the Kraken would be doing Minnesota a huge favour if they selected Rask over guys like Dumba, Soucy, Sokolov, Hartman, Talbot, and possibly Nico Sturm if Minnesota protects Hartman over Sturm.
Minnesota could choose to change up their protected list a bit before the draft; or even choose a different protection list. If Guerin and the Wild want to keep Dumba and don’t think they could make a trade to keep him without giving up quality prospects, they could go the 4-4-1 route. That would leave Greenway, Hartman, Foligno, and Nico Sturm available and I don’t think Guerin wants that.
Don’t be surprised if the Wild pulled off something like this to keep Dumba:
MIN Receives: 2022 fourth round pick
SEA Receives: C. Soucy, V. Rask, D. Giroux, and a 2022 second round pick
Now sure it may seem like a lot to Minnesota fans. But we are talking about them possibly taking one of either Dumba, Talbot, Sturm, Hartman, Foligno. The list seems to keep going on. In the long run, Marco Rossi will replace Victor Rask’s spot and Calen Addison will replace Carson Soucy’s spot.
As long as the Wild can hold on to prospects like Matt Boldy, Marco Rossi, Adam Beckman, and Calen Addison, I think any trade to keep a guy like Dumba or Hartman should be considered.
Either way, Minnesota is going to lose a good player. Or even two to three good players, depending on if they make a trade. But whomever the Kraken take, Guerin and his staff will replace him with either a free agent or a young prospect. Someone who is ready to compete in the NHL, and fortunately for the Wild, they have a couple of them.
I think the Wild have established themselves as a contender down the road. A couple of new players here and there and they can be right in the mix with some top teams in the NHL. Finding a decent top-six centre to play with Fiala or Kaprizov must be addressed. Plus, giving Marco Rossi and Matt Boldy some time to develop and play in the NHL, should give us Minnesota Wild fans something to look forward to.